Posted by: facetothewind | October 20, 2016

Fall Finally


Autumn arrived gently at the end of a very long, hot summer in Arizona. Fortunately we weren’t here to experience more than a couple months of it. And now the prize: warm, sunny days, cool nights with a light blanket. And the buzz of the fall season in Tucson as we slide into the holidays. Everything is pumpkin. Pumpkin beer, pumpkin breakfast cereal, pumpkin hand sanitizer, pumpkin deodorant. Well, OK, maybe not.


The days are still warm enough for swimming and the nights cool enough for a fire and a cuddle. Summer was more like, “Love you darling, but don’t touch me — it’s too darn hot.”


This is the time of year when I’m deliriously happy to be in Arizona and relieved NOT to be where most of my dear friends have hunkered down for the winter.

Jeff and Angela invited us on a glamping trip to the national forest near Willcox. We had a great time chopping wood, digging holes, cooking over the open fire and inhaling mosquitoes. We made flame broiled steaks and corn, Malaysian curry, roasted marshmallows with dark chocolate mouth-mix while enjoying the music of crickets and coyotes and great horned owls. It was all so very wild west dude ranchy. Alas, Arizona had a very wet summer and the mosquitoes are out in force this year. The winter freeze will reset them back to zero but it seems that climate change is turning southern Arizona into the subtropics…which is not a bad thing, honestly. I hate to admit this but I’ve taken to fogging the courtyards because it has gotten so bad with the skeeters. I give up on environmentalism when winged vampires are sucking my blood.

Here’s a little video encapsulation of early autumn in Tucson…

Here’s a little photo collage of the past 6 weeks of mountains and married life…

Next stop Grand Canyon.

Posted by: facetothewind | September 21, 2016

Return to Tucson


Returning to Tucson, Arizona, in mid-August after 3 months of traveling in Northern California and Oregon can be a challenge. August is month 4 of 5 months of summer and it’s in the middle of the monsoon season.


This means lots of dramatic storms, intense heat and humidity, and pool time!


I usually get up early and swim before the day’s extreme heat. The mornings are soft, not quite cool and unfortunately now, full of mosquitoes. Tucson has become more tropical over the years of climate change and with that comes the little winged vampires.

This post-marriage return to Tucson was a “homecoming” of sorts. And we returned to a home that was badly in need of a deep cleaning after a filthy housemate ground a deep layer of grime into the furniture, carpet, and walls. After he moved out we cleaned every surface thoroughly and called in the steam cleaners.


Chuan and I sanded and varnished cabinets and table tops, re-organized closets, re-arranged furniture, artwork, threw out tons of junk and reclaimed the house from the maw of grunge. Thanks to Jeff for the use of his orbital sander!


We washed everything to get the smell of the last renter (not Trish!) out, ordered some new sheets and desk chair from IKEA and voila…the bridal suite was ours…


And thus began the immigration process. We were at first promised full pro-bono representation by the non-profit Immigration Equality in New York. But after weeks of phone calls and emails went unreturned, we found out that the attorney who made those promises left the firm and we were left stranded with valuable time wasted. So we immediately contacted a local attorney, Claudia Arevalo, who was extremely helpful.


But she comes with a hefty price tag of fees to assist us in getting Chuan his permanent residency. Fortunately I’ve saved some money for this and with the help of some generous family members and friends, we are able to afford her expertise. A big kiss to all who helped…


So, today we submitted all the paperwork, certified checks, birth certificates, wedding license, tax returns, bank statements, and medical exams to our attorney, and off we go. The price tag for this process is about $5,000. Ugh.


Meanwhile, Chuan auditioned to sing in the Tucson Symphony Chorus. Lois and I both rehearsed and coached him on his art song and the excerpts of the Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem that are required to get into the chorus. He met with Dr. Chamberlain at his office and sang for him Schubert’s Litanei. He let loose with his beautiful baritone voice and was accepted on the spot.


And now on Monday nights we sing together, a chair apart, rehearsing for the January, 2017 performance of Brahms’ Deutsches Requiem. The performance, sung in German, will be to nealry 6,000 people over 2 performances. During rehearsals, I look over at Chuan who is earnestly trying to keep up with the conductor’s rapid pace of complex instructions. There’s a nervous and excited look on his face…like he’s running to jump on a train that has already left the station. To sing with the symphony is a great privilege and only bestowed upon accomplished musicians. For him to get in with no previous singing experience was a great feat and some statement of Chuan’s extraordinary musical ability and ear, not to mention his lovely voice.


I’m so thrilled to share this great musical experience with him. Sometimes I can’t believe that a few months ago we were stuck in traffic in Kuala Lumpur on the way to a mall desperate to find something culturally interesting and now here we are swimming, cycling, and singing with a fantastic orchestra.

Jeff and Angela hosted a wonderful party at their house to celebrate our nuptials. Here you can see my 50+ fat belly and the free-flowing champagne and carrot cake big enough to feed an army that are helping me to maintain my figure…


Thank you to Angela & Jeff for your generosity! Following is the video of the party where you can see us singing a barbershop piece WAY too slow. And you can see Rudy the Puerto Rican poodle in his last few days. Nearly blind and deaf and pretty close to death, this was his last party and we kind of knew it. So I unabashedly fed him some scraps from the table knowing that any lifelong bad habits weren’t going to be for long.

Here are some more miscellaneous pictures of the party and our return to Tucson…

And now we wait for immigration and the first breath of cool…


Posted by: facetothewind | September 7, 2016

Last Week in SF


It was the week before the wedding. A couple friends arrived to join us.

Here’s the week in pictures…


Here’s the video of the week:

Posted by: facetothewind | August 17, 2016

In Sickness and in Health


August 8, 2016: the emergency room doctor at Marin General placed in my feverish little hands a sheet of paper that said: No sex. No alcohol. Side effects of depression, anxiety, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. These are not exactly the words you want to hear the day before you are to be married.

It was the morning before my wedding to Chuan and I woke with a high fever. I lay in bed thinking, please god, don’t let me be sick…this is the worst possible time to be sick. This can’t be happening but it was. I wasn’t afraid to get married. This couldn’t be pre-wedding jitters, no, something is really wrong. Fever chills began working up my body in waves like a death rattle. My teeth chattered, my chest tightened and I pulled up the covers to stay warm in Jean’s guest room. Chuan was downstairs with Jean planning our day of cooking for the wedding reception. I couldn’t calm the shakes which had now become violent when the nausea kicked in. I stumbled downstairs into the kitchen crying and heaved right into the sink. Chuan and Jean were shocked and tried to comfort me. I felt Chuan’s arms wrap around me as I was heaving something yellow down the drain. I had never felt this sick in my life.

Between the dry heaves and shaking, Chuan stuck a thermometer in my mouth and it came out at 103. I didn’t really have any other symptoms of a flu or infection. I feared it was appendicitis as I had some minor, intermittent cramps in my lower abdomen. Jean said it was time to take me to the hospital. We called Blue Cross Blue Shield and spoke to a nurse who concurred we needed to get to the hospital right away. We fumbled through customer support to see if a visit to the emergency room would be covered — as one does only in America. It was and so we rushed out the door and then got stuck in bumper-to-bumper, morning rush hour traffic.

After the usual questions at triage, the nurses guessed it was appendicitis and so I was admitted to an ER room and thus began the questions, the poking, prodding, sampling and waiting. There was discussion about a CT scan to determine if it was indeed appendicitis but the doctor ruled it out after probing my painless belly. Then they tested my urine and voila! Infection was present. So they quickly put me on levofloxacin and suggested that this was a probably an acute prostate-related urinary tract infection…not an STI. Apparently women are more susceptible to this than men, but in men with prostate issues, it is indeed a problem. Four and a half hours after arriving, I was released on meds, whimpering about the hair they ripped off my arm with my IV.

So with a little side trip to the emergency room down a path of chastity, sobriety, and suicidal ideation, it was off to the altar to see about getting married after all.


Chuan and Jean nursed me back to health and we made it to San Francisco City Hall by 10am on the 9th of August, residual fever and all. And married we are. It happened. It had to happen. I was not going to take no for an answer. Nor was Chuan.

If you’ve never been to City Hall in San Francisco, it is a spectacular example of 1915 Beaux-Arts architecture. As you push the gilded doors open, you enter what appears to be an inside-out wedding cake. It’s the perfect setting for a marriage complete with Chinese tourists and selfie sticks. (They took special delight in seeing a same sex, Caucasian-Asian, age-divergent marriage taking place atop the stairs beneath the skylit rotunda.)


We made our way to the back corner of the hall where we registered with the city and then met with the woman who would be our officiant to perform the ceremony. She seemed incompetent and bumbling with a very thick accent which I think was a Filipino accent.


While they processed our paperwork, the guests were still arriving and looking radiant. Simon, Jean, Scott, Tom, Lawrence, Kristel and January all came to bear witness to the occasion and then we waited for the Justice of the Peace at the top of the stairs under the rotunda. She arrived and behold…there she was…all 3 1/2 feet of be-gowned and be-wigged justicia…Mrs. Yoda, our guide through the gates of holy matrimony! She started looking around and calling, “David…David?” I got all panicky and my fever surged before I realized that the couple to be wed before us also had a David in their party.


Lawrence sang us a beautiful song which wonderfully calmed our nerves, quieted my fever, and drew the attention of tourists. Finally our time came and it was time to step up to the top of the stairs and get married in full view of the bronze bust of Harvey Milk who was assassinated 38 years before, just steps away from that very spot.


Chuan and I stood facing each other in front of the Justice and she began her ceremony. At least I saw her mouth moving and her admiring eyes reading as she looked each of us in the eye, but I couldn’t hear anything. Mrs. Yoda was in fact Justice Whisperer. She was extremely soft-spoken and with the ambient sound of the rotunda’s live acoustics I simply had to go on memory of what she was going to say from having seen this on YouTube previously. We each leaned in closer and closer and the nearer we drew, the fainter her voice became.


No matter, we got the point and we exchanged the rings and said our vows. The hardest part was not to just burst out in tears about the whole thing. The text she was reading (what we could hear of it) was very beautifully written and said nothing about god, but everything about the power of love and the honor of marriage. When she got to the part about loving each other in sickness and in health I felt the relevancy of those words. The whole ceremony was very emotional for me especially having just felt so close to death the day before.


And so on the 2nd year anniversary of having met Chuan in Kuala Lumpur, we said, “I do,” and we did it. What an adventure it has been halfway around the world, over land and sea, continents and cultures, to land us here in the heart of gay America.

After the ceremony we placed flower leis that my cousin Dale from Connecticut sent. Chuan read some talking point from his iPhone, half laughing and half crying, and I stumbled in a still fevered way through some proclamations of love for Chuan. It would have been different had we not spent the day before in the hospital but, alright, sometimes life intervenes. Chuan seemed genuinely touched and moved by the whole experience in spite of all the stress and drama we had been through in the past 36 hours.


After the ceremony, we give a big kiss of gratitude to Harvey Milk whose face was glowing with the attention. San Francisco’s City Hall has a rich history of the struggle for gay rights in America and in a way is the birthplace of same sex marriage. So it seemed like a fitting place to tie the knot. It was also a very public place to get married with tourists circling around snapping pictures. I imagine that Wechat was buzzing that morning with pictures being sent back to mainland China of the 2 dudes getting married, kissing, and crying. They heard about this and now they got to see it in person.

You can watch the wedding and the reception on this video, but of course, you won’t be able to hear much from Justice Whisperer. Put in some earphones and maybe you can hear her sweet voice and words…


The reception afterward was held at Kristel & Lawrence’s house…my friends who just got engaged the week before. So they still had all the Congrats balloons and rented champagne flutes at the house — so it all worked out perfectly. Huge thanks to them for hosting the party; to Tom for the flower bouquets and for shooting video; to Jean for bearing the rings and for the fabulous vanilla and blackberry layer cake and getting us to the “church on time” (and me to the ER on time); to cousin Dale for the orchid leis; to Scott for coming the farthest and for being my oldest friend; to lovely January for the benediction that was delivered more in spirit than in words (my bad); to adorable Lawrence for learning “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine” and singing it at City Hall!; to Simon for picking up the cake and for all the pre-wedding week dramas that put me in the hospital (just kidding); and to my parents for loving me and supporting me since I came out to them 34 years ago. Thanks to all those who wanted to be with us but couldn’t. Thank you to Angela and Jeff in Tucson for an amazing Tucson reception (pictures coming soon)! And thank you to all those who sent gifts and greetings from around the world and donations to help with Chuan’s legal fees for immigration…all so very much appreciated and needed as we set forth down that path.

Finally, the biggest thanks goes to my new husband, Chuan, who has loved me from day three, who held my vomit bucket and my hand in the hospital thinking the marriage was off. He came all this way around the world to be with me in the strange new world, to step up to the rotunda and commit to a lifetime of being together. In Chuan’s words the next morning, “Hubby, we got married. Shit!” I think he meant, “holy cow.”

I feel a book coming on.


Next stop: Immigration.

Posted by: facetothewind | July 26, 2016

“Portland: where young people go to retire.”

That’s a line from Portlandia…a show that pokes a lot of fun at Portland and its wacky inhabitants. But who needs comedy writers when you have the real Portland for material? It’s a colorful, stylish (without being fashionable) place where convention and reality come face to painted face with fantasy in a cloud of blue-gray pot smoke.


Portland is a playful, delightful place where you can meet the blue man on the street or some beardy guy named Bug in the middle of a river wearing a bug hat…


It’s a place where you can get industrial safety gear and a ukulele under the same roof…


“The dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland,” goes a song in Portlandia…


Where else can you meet a friendly Furry with a foxtail in a bar? You might want to look up what Furries are all about.


Visit the creepiest bathroom on earth at Cafe Rimsky Korsakoffee house…


Portland is the place you can get a big hug from guilt-ridden Christians…


And if you’re not feeling the full weirdness, just pop into any legal marijuana store and get your freak-on to go (no smoking on premises!). Just look for the ubiquitous green cross at a neighborhood pot store near you.


Freak or no freaks, Portland in my humble opinion, is the most beautiful city in America. And the property values reflect it. I only wish to imagine living there in the winter, without actually experiencing 8 months of gray and drizzle. For now, it is a wonderful place to walk down the gorgeous tree-lined streets so pretty you want to weep.


Here’s the video encapsulation of the 3 weeks in Portland…


And here’s a photo montage of three lovely weeks in Portland. Thank you to Carole, Larry, Pretzel, Bluejoy and friends for the accommodations. And thanks to our lovely friends Greg, Robin, Franklin, Andrew, Trav B, Jeff, Steve, Larry, for all the fun times and good meals. We will miss you all and the food carts and swimming in the Gorge and the lack of sales tax. We’ll be back next summer for sure!!

Next stop: the altar. City Hall, San Francisco. August 9, 2016 at 10:30 am. OMG, it’s really happening.


Posted by: facetothewind | July 13, 2016

Pacific Northwest Summer


Pacific Northwest summer means rivers, forests, and berries, berries, BERRIES! Blackberries abound along roadsides, ditches, and riverbanks. Blueberries jump off the bush at berry farms, and thimbleberries offer their delicate, red caps of flavor if you’re willing to go deep into the rainforest to find them. And we did.


Steve and Travis took us on a hike along the Clackamas River where we discovered the thimbleberries and some beautiful wildflowers in the shady undergrowth of the fir and cedar trees.


And Larry took us to Sauvie Island, just north of Portland, to pick black and blue berries. And our tongues were black and blue to prove it. One for the bucket. One for the mouth. We are so full of antioxidants, we’re going back in time.


Sauvie Island is one of my favorite places in the Portland area. It’s a gorgeous mix of wildlife refuge and farmland. It’s the place that would have inspired Van Gogh and Monet to set up their easels and behold a hundred different shades of green…

Sauvie Island

Here’s a photo collage of the 2 days of berry adventures…


Posted by: facetothewind | July 4, 2016

Pride and Precipice


Chuan walking along Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture in the Presidio in San Francisco.

Our pre-nuptial tour of the Bay Area continued through Marin at Jean’s house on the lagoon, Mt. Tamalpais, Wildwood Retreat Center, Armstrong Woods, and San Gregorio. Our self-guided tour culminated with a stay with Simon at his place in the Castro. Then after nearly missing the train because of traffic, we hit the rails to Portland on the Coast Starlight. It was a great trip with lots of picnics on cliffs, parks, and beaches, and a lot of worrying about the crazy cost of living in the Bay Area. Thank you to Jean and Simon for letting us stay for free! Oh, our thinking about Gay Pride in San Francisco — skip it! It’s a big, trashy, drunken party.

Here’s the video encapsulation of the month by the Bay…


And here’s the photo montage of the month. AGAIN, forgive the endless selfies and wefies. Immigration needs to see that we are indeed a couple and have a history with each other. Click on a picture and then scroll with your arrow buttons. Each photo is captioned.

Next stop: San Francisco for the big wedding on August 9.

Posted by: facetothewind | June 10, 2016

Summer of Love

David Gilmore photography

There’s something about letting pictures just tell the story when you’re too busy enjoying life to take time to write it out in long form. So with the apology for WAY too many selfies and wefies  (we need to show the authorities that we are indeed a legitimate couple) I am offering you photos of our prenuptial tour of California. Big thanks to Jean for use of the car and home while she’s away, January for the wonderful days in Pacific Grove and Esalen, Jack for the mineral collection tour, Ben & Jen for a great coastal retreat in Pt. Arena, and Charlie and Lark for a mountain top musical retreat in Ukiah. California has become out of reach expensive and we couldn’t experience this amazing state without your help!

Oregon is next.

Posted by: facetothewind | June 2, 2016

Finally the Proposal

Here in agonizing sentimentality is the performance piece that Chuan and I co-wrote and performed at the Generate Gathering at Saratoga Springs, California. The end of the piece has an unscripted proposal of marriage.

And so the wedding is August 9 in San Francisco.

Posted by: facetothewind | June 2, 2016

Chuan Arrives in America

He arrived April 11, and hit the ground pedaling. I paced the house nervously the day of his arrival. I put a stew in the SunOven, mopped, dusted, washed the sheets while listening to 40’s housewifey music like Doris Day. I awaited news from of his arrival at the Dallas airport. And then it arrived. He landed and sailed through Customs.

Housemate Trish and I met Chuan at the airport and waited for him to come down the stairs. He arrived and I waved my little American flag and welcomed him into my arms. I kept having to poke at him to make sure this was real. Could this be the little guy I left behind in Malaysia, finally here in the flesh? I handed him the bouquet of flowers I got for him. I felt the need to text my boyfriend in Malaysia to tell him that I met this great guy at the airport. But wait.

His first day ever out of Asia, I had him cycling 7 miles downtown (and 7 miles back) for a great Mexican meal at The Little Cafe Poca Cosa for some chicken molé. Then it was a sunny, colorful, and sometimes agonizing wild ride through the desert city to take as much in as possible in our 5 weeks in Tucson. We went to as many concerts at the University and ate as much great pizza and Mexican food as possible in that short time period. He hated my spare bike and then miraculously it was stolen and so we had the opportunity to outfit him with a bike to suit his taste.

And then it was off to California by train for 30 hours of eye-popping scenery, shake, rattle, and rail on America’s embarrassingly inefficient train system: Amtrak. We arrived 2 hours late and slightly agitated…but hey, when you’re taking the train in America, punctuality is not paramount. And when traveling a thousand miles, what’s a couple of hours?

Here’s a video recap of the trip so far…

Chuan really liked Tucson. He found the people extraordinarily warm and welcoming, the town full of cheap eats and ear candy at the University’s music school. He found the desert both beautiful and forbidding…as one should…because it is both. He thought the natural air conditioning was fascinating — the cool desert nights and hot days. He liked how many PhD’s he met in Tucson and how receptive the U was to him getting a music degree there should he want to pursue that. He likes the clean air and the orderliness on the streets. He’s astonished by how big the country is and comforted by how ethnically diverse it is. He has mixed feelings about the desert dryness and is somewhat mystified by how lazy and self-absorbed some Americans can be — especially the young people. He’s shocked by how ubiquitous the smell of marijuana smoke is in San Francisco.


Mostly I think what he likes about America is the social freedom to be himself, to be in love and be public about it. He doesn’t miss his government and dirty public places and the corrupt police. (Nor do I, Chuan!)

Thanks to Trish and our lovely friends for embracing him so warmly. Here’s a photo collage of our Tucson time (again, apologies for all the selfies and wefies — there’s a reason for this other than unchecked narcissism)…

And what does he miss the most? His best friends, warm sea water, and noodles.

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